This is the second part of my 2015 MLB Draft profiles. This time I look at prep catcher and local fella Chris Betts, who has a big bat but some questions about sticking behind the plate.
6’2, 220 pounds
DOB: March 10, 1997
Days younger than Julio Urias: -210
Long Beach, Calif.
Wilson High School
Commitment: University of Tennessee
Slot recommended bonus (No. 24): $2,094,400
Slot recommended bonus (No. 35): $1,756,100
Editor’s note: All information of draft prospects compiled from internet sources, scouting reports and video.
Offense is at a premium in today’s game, and while the Dodgers (or any team) aren’t drafting for 2015, they’re drafting for the future. Offense from a potential catcher carries an even higher premium. That’s what Wilson High School catcher Chris Betts bring to the table.
The left-handed swinger has a quick bat despite being a bigger guy. He starts with a wide base that he has since narrowed a bit. His hands are quiet from start to finish, as he holds them just above shoulder level. When he goes into his load, he also crouches a little bit. I’m not sure exactly why he does it, but it could be to generate more bat speed and, therefore, more power potential. He also has a toe-tap for timing, and it all seems to work for him. He has a longer stride than a lot of hitters these days (not Corey Seager long, though) and his front foot rolls over (ala Seager). His bat stays in the hitting zone a long time and it’s a short, quick, level stroke that is conducive to power and line drives.
On the basepaths, well, let’s just say he runs like a catcher. He has been timed in the 7.1-7.5 range in the 60-yard dash, which equates to 45-grade speed on the fast end and 30-grade speed on the slow end. In one of the videos I saw, he checked in at 13.01 seconds on a triple. For context, Dee Gordon got around the bases on a triple (scored on an error) in 13.89 seconds. He definitely won’t be known as a threat on the bases.
Behind the plate, he has plus-arm strength. The scouting reports say he has a long release when he throws, but the videos I saw didn’t show that. Granted, most of them weren’t in game action, but he showed the ability to have a short, quick release and consistent 1.9-second pop times. We’ll see if it translates to game action. He’s a big-bodied catcher who moves surprisingly well behind the plate and has dropped weight this year. Keith Law wrote some teams think he could be a Brian McCann-type catcher, which, yes.
With the dearth of quality catching prospects in this draft, Betts figures to be a lock for the first round. If the Dodgers popped him at No. 24, I wouldn’t be upset. I’m not sure he makes it there, let alone wondering if he makes it to No. 35. His offensive potential and upside would come at a premium if he can stick behind the plate. If not, a move to first base could be in order. He probably couldn’t handle a corner outfield spot with his lack of foot speed. If he moves off catcher, he should be able to hit enough to justify a spot at first, even if his plus-arm would be somewhat wasted there.
He was No. 2 on my first Big Board, and I’m really high on the kid. With offense becoming much more scarce, getting a catcher who can hit would be nice value at No. 24.